Posted by: jblevins | May 14, 2009

Radical Relationality

On April 19th, I was blessed to be the guest speaker at morning worship at the Arlington Church of the Brethren. Below is an excerpt of what I said, using the texts Psalm 133, and Acts 4:32-35. Click here to read the sermon in full.

Friends, we are coming off of the holiest, and often most transformational, weeks in the Christian liturgical calendar. The most beautiful thing about Holy Week – The kingdom of God has come! No longer is it just at hand, almost reachable, as it was in the parables, or the Mark passage Buechner is referencing. Christ rode into Jerusalem off the Mount of Olives to a Kings welcome … and then completely transformed what that kingdom was going to be like. It was a reign that began by turning over the tables of the money changers in the temple, that spent time communing with God, that knelt and washed feet as a servant, that suffered and died rather than embrace the brokenness around him, and then rose – in order that we may be able to live in such a way.

And so, like I said before, this movement of Sundays makes sense to me. When we can move right from the resurrected Christ to our call to live that out in our relationship with all of Creation. But, do we really understand, one week later, what this means? What this means for the brokenness we see around us now? Do we recognize the radical transformation that Holy Week calls into being? The first set of disciples certainly did. I am going to read a different translation of our Acts passage this morning, from the Message: “The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, “That’s mine; you can’t have it.” They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them. And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person’s need. “These first disciples and followers got it – they understood what Jesus resurrection was calling them to. They lived in ultimate community and relationality – sharing all that they had with one another.

And, this week, Earth Week, reminds us that this is a message of radical relationality for not only the people of God, but for all of God’s Creation.  That this kind of sharing of Christ’s love extends not only to the people of God, but through the people of God to the rest of the created world. Christ invites us back into relationship with the Creator, and once there, we are invited to extend that relationship to the totality of Creation. Sallie McFague writes, “Jesus Christ is the lens, the model, through whom Christians interpret God, the world, and themselves. The doctrine of Creation for Christians then, is not different in kind from the doctrine of the incarnation: in both, God is the source of all existence, the One in whom we are born and reborn. In this view, the world is not just matter, while God is spirit. Rather, there is continuity between God and the world. The world is flesh of God’s “flesh”, the God who took our flesh in one person, Jesus of Nazareth, has always done so. God is incarnate, not secondarily but primarily” (73).

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